January 8, 2015

Security tips for gamers: how to keep your precious elf safe

Security Tips

The rise of MMORPG and Internet gaming platforms definitely attracts lots of cybercriminals looking for new ways to monetize their malicious skills. Currently, Kaspersky Lab knows of more than 4.6 million pieces of gaming-focused malware. Popular sphere indeed, right?

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Have you ever wondered why so many of us lose control and ignore security rules while playing games, though in every day life we remain vigilant? This behavior may seem strange, but there is a scientific answer.

“Our behavior changes when we enter ‘gaming mode.’ Computer gaming speaks to both our emotional and our rational-cognitive system. While we react very differently to each game, they all influence our experience and our real-life behavior,” explains Frank Schwab, a professor of media psychology at the University of Würzburg.

“Gamers tend to have difficulties turning off the feelings of success — and possibly also of omnipotence — they achieve in the game world in subsequent real-life situations. This can lead to risky online behavior, with players searching for cheats on illegal websites, for example,” adds the professor.

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Many gamers turn off their antivirus solutions: Games are resource consuming and players want to enjoy the picture in the highest possible quality at any price, including safety. That’s why gamers are increasingly falling victim to malware and phishing attacks carried out by cybercriminals.

Hackers often use underground forums to sell access to victim’s gaming accounts, e.g. on the popular portal and marketplace Steam. The more man-hours you spend to develop your character — the more attractive it becomes for hackers. For example, a high-level character from a popular online RPG can be sold for about $10,000.

It’s quite easy to lose your precious character. For example, downloading a free screensaver from an unknown player can be enough. And it’s not so easy to get the stolen account back. You can wait days or weeks, and receive back a ‘naked’ character with all of its items lost forever.

Here’s another area of danger: the credit cards connected to user accounts. Attractive email letters, which lure gamers each time a big game launches (e.g. during a Christmas promotion period), are sometimes phishing campaigns aiming to steal banking credentials and other valuable info. These usually offer major discounts or cheap gaming goods.

There still is a juicy scandal around the Sony Pictures hack. Take into account that this is not the first big fail by Sony (Do you remember when, in 2011, the whole network slipped into a coma for a few months?). If giant corporations can suffer such crucial loses, imagine what can happen to common users.

There are three pillars of basic gaming security – they are almost the same for general PC security as well:

  • Beware of phishing campaigns and unfamiliar gamers. Double check the website you are redirected to via the link in the received email and the extension of a file you are going to open.
  • Use strong and unique passwords. Lots of accounts were hacked last year as a result of weak password management. Alternatively, you can also use a password manager.
  • Do not turn off your antivirus! If you don’t have one, install a good solution. And a special tip for all Kaspersky users: here you can find a detailed manual on how to turn on the Gaming Profile option. It will optimize settings of all antivirus components.

Follow these basic rules and stay safe while playing online games!